CO-Architecture launches, 600 signups in 2 weeks

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CO-architecture founders Kevin Mitchem and Wade Smith
CO-architecture founders Kevin Mitchem and Wade Smith. Photo - Reuben-Black media

Architects Kevin Mitchem and Wade Smith were working away on some design projects in 2017, and finding it hard to source resources. They had both worked in larger architecture firms, such as Woods Bagot, who were good at sharing resources across the office to help on projects – why can’t this happen in the broader industry?

From idea to Reality

The CO-Architecture idea was born, what they call the ‘AirTasker for Architecture’, a marketplace for for architect and design talent to find work, and for work to find them.

Architecture’s a tough industry. Most of the work is won by a handful (~2%) of large firms, such as the Wood Bagot and HASSELL’s of this world, with vast majority of the sector made up by sole traders and small businesses. Collaboration between the myriad of disaggregated firms seemed like a good idea.

What we do is formalise what happens informally, anyway. The industry is highly fragmented, so our idea is to add coordination.

KEVIN MITCHEM SPEAKING TO STARTUP NEWS THIS WEEK

Wade took the idea through his MBA at the time, working on it as an academic project, building up the strategy, business and marketing plans.

The CO-Architecture site on multiple devices

Covid

“Then Covid hit, worse over east than here,” Kevin recalls. “There were suddenly loads of unemployed designers and architects looking for work, while over in WA, we were busy with projects and looking for help.”

At around the same time, in mid-2019, the two co-founders were sponsored by the Town of Vic Park to attend Curtin Ignition, and this was just what they needed.

In an intense week, they had mentors help them develop the business concept, and sharpen their strategy.

“At the end of the week, we were super nervous pitching to a top team of investors and business people, including former iiNet founder and CEO Michael Malone,” said Kevin.

“But he’s been super helpful. As an investor in AirTasker, he totally got what we were doing, and gave us some great advice, and has kept in touch.”

Launch

The service formally went live last month, and they received 600 signups in the first fortnight. The marketplace works, having closed a couple of deals already, on which the business takes a 9% clip on the ticket.

The team is now focussed on growth and marketing, and are partnering with Curtin’s School of Design Built Environment, where students can use the platform to get work. They are looking partner with similar design schools around Australia to help grow the concept and awareness.

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For more https://co-architecture.com/ and follow them on Instagram here